Task Force to make recommendations to protect the County from Cyberattacks, Enhance the long-standing efforts of the Westchester County Department of Information Technology   

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In response to local governments becoming increasingly susceptible to cybersecurity threats over the past decade, County Executive George Latimer has signed an Executive Order to create a Task Force on Cybersecurity. The Task Force will be charged with reviewing the County’s current cybersecurity policies, and developing new procedures to enhance the long-standing efforts of the County’s Department of Information Technology (DoIT). Together with DoIT, the Task Force will ensure the County will be protected if it ever fell victim to a major breach or cybersecurity attack.

Latimer said: “It is crucial that Westchester County take the necessary steps to anticipate and prepare for a possible cybersecurity threat, which could pose a significant risk to our water systems and utilities, school districts and healthcare facilities, airport and other County operations. We very much appreciate the good work of the County’s Department of Information Technology, and feel that a strong cybersecurity strategy will arm us with the tools we need to prevent a breach that could access, alter, delete or destroy sensitive data or information.”

Commissioner of Westchester County DoIT Marguerite Beirne said: “Cybersecurity has been DoIT’s top strategic priority for many years, and we are laser-focused on ensuring the security of all areas of technology that County departments rely on to deliver services, be it desktops, servers, network infrastructure, applications or phones. DoIT will continue to balance the need for new IT solutions with the “human side” of cybersecurity, encouraging all staff to take advantage of available cybersecurity training opportunities. Nearly 2,000 employees have already participated in our latest round of training, so we know the interest is high among staff and we look forward to expanding training offerings even more in the future.”  

Former Westchester County Legislator and Chair of the Cybersecurity Task Force Ruth Walter said: “It is clear that cybersecurity is in the news. From ransomware attacks on government infrastructure, to non-profits having their donor lists stolen to identity theft in our own homes, we are living in a digital world that continues to evolve new threats from local, national and international bad actors. Westchester County, with its excellent IT Department and resources, is well-positioned to lead the discussion among experts and municipal officials. As a small business owner, former County Legislator and mom, I appreciate the County Executive's forethought in setting up this crucial Task Force to help make families and businesses safe in Westchester County. We can encourage best practices, encourage other municipalities within Westchester to examine their systems and have a frank discussion of the known and potential threats that are circulating in our workplaces. We know the costs of doing nothing are too high to pay.”

Westchester County Director of Operations Joan McDonald will serve as Technical Advisor to the Cybersecurity Task Force. In 2015, President Obama appointed McDonald to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). McDonald served on NIAC through 2020, and participated in several national cybersecurity studies.

Westchester County DoIT currently performs the following cybersecurity strategies:

  • Prioritized Identification and Protection of high value information and assets;
  • Timely Detection of and Rapid Response to cyber incidents;
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Training and Phishing Campaigns
  • Efficient and Effective Acquisition and Deployment of Existing and Emerging Technology

In addition to recommending new cybersecurity strategies, legislation and funding priorities to reduce the risk of cyberattacks, it will also ensure that all Westchester County employees receive the proper training on cybersecurity threats. The Executive Order takes effect immediately.